Democratic Enfranchisement Beyond Citizenship: The All-Affected Principle in Theory and Practice

Dissertation, Oxford University (2018)
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This is a collection of four papers about the All-Affected Principle (AAP): the view that every person whose morally weighty interests are affected by a democratic decision has the right to participate in that decision. The first paper (“Narrow Possibilism about Democratic Enfranchisement”) examines how we should distribute democratic participation rights: a plausible version of AAP must avoid treating unlike cases alike, which would be procedurally unfair. The solution is to distribute participation rights proportionately to the risk that a person’s interests will be affected. AAP thus implies an account of political equality that requires adherence to the ‘one person—one vote’ model only if interests are indeed equally affected. The second paper (“Economic Participation Rights and the AAP”) argues that AAP supporters have paid insufficient attention to economic participation rights. The exercise of such rights raises unique worries about democratic accountability, which is why their exercise is constrained by a number of duties. The third paper (“What AAP Is, and How (Not) to Fight It”) explores how AAP fares in light of possible objections from desirability and feasibility. Unlike crude versions of AAP, a plausibly restricted version of AAP cannot be dismissed as easily as many AAP sceptics may have thought. My reflections here are useful for AAP supporters and sceptics alike: this paper helps clarify what kind of objection can cast serious doubt on AAP. The fourth paper (“Criminal Disenfranchisement, Political Wrongdoing, and Affected Interests”) asks: is AAP compatible with criminal disenfranchisement? AAP, when endorsed in combination with a plausible theory of punishment, is compatible with disenfranchising a narrow set of criminal wrongdoers only: those guilty of ‘political wrongdoing’, which is wrong primarily because it undermines democratic procedures and institutions for private gain. The upshot is that current blanket policies of criminal disenfranchisement are incompatible with AAP.



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Annette Zimmermann
University of Wisconsin, Madison

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